Written Programming Exams?

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#1 Tarkenfire  Icon User is offline

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Written Programming Exams?

Posted 17 May 2011 - 05:36 PM

I just got back from my Java I final exam...and it was interesting because it was entirely written, and it included writing full programs, and we couldn't use computers.

Umm, is this something unusual?

I've only taken two other programming classes in my college career so far (VB I and VB II), and those classes had practical finals that involved...programming rather than writing down syntax on a piece of paper and hope it's right with no way of checking.

Should I be expecting something similar in future programming classes?

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#2 ishkabible  Icon User is offline

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Re: Written Programming Exams?

Posted 17 May 2011 - 08:43 PM

that's what we have to on the AP exams. you write your code in pencil and people then grade it :)

i don't like it but it's part of the course. this is where code golf skills come in :)
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#3 crownRoyal89  Icon User is offline

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Re: Written Programming Exams?

Posted 17 May 2011 - 09:54 PM

yepp this is pretty standard for any programming final exam. I've been a CS student for the past 2 years and all of my exams are written or MC. The profs do this to test your understanding of the material and how well you know the syntax.

Its a pretty effective method of evaluating the students intake.
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#4 SegFaulty  Icon User is offline

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Re: Written Programming Exams?

Posted 17 May 2011 - 11:52 PM

One of my professors is the same way. We did one quiz and week that was handwritten with a midterm, endterm, and final exam. All were handwritten. He does it because this way he can keep his exams/quizzes to your knowledge, because he can't make sure every kid in the room isn't connected to our campus-wide wifi. On the other hand, I also have a professor who doesn't care if you google answers to an exam to your heart's content.
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#5 Tarkenfire  Icon User is offline

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Re: Written Programming Exams?

Posted 18 May 2011 - 12:09 AM

Well, you could just limit things to school computers and then have some sort of switch on the wired internet. I mean, people are going to cheat anyways, and really, so long as they're paying for the classes, what does it matter? The school gets it's money, a good grade, and the student screws themselves out of a real education to get a meaningless degree.

Eh, I guess I just really can't see much of a valid point in a programming test without a computer to use to check answers as that limits questions to cookie-cutter generic one rather than ones that actually get people to think :S
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#6 DivideByZero  Icon User is offline

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Re: Written Programming Exams?

Posted 19 May 2011 - 08:19 AM

I've just got back from my C++ exam which was also written.
I for one am glad it was written as it forced us to write about the concepts and the behind the scenes stuff.
The cheaters in my class struggled as they couldn't rely on the internet to cheat :D
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#7 v0rtex  Icon User is offline

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Re: Written Programming Exams?

Posted 21 May 2011 - 06:47 AM

We do that at my school as well, I suspect in our next test we will have to write the fibonacci sequence with recursion in pencil (teacher said that would be most expected), I'm not at university yet so haven't probably coded stuff in pencil to the extent you have but I must concur that it can be quite frustrating at time but truly shows you if you understand something or if you rely on the IDE too much :)
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#8 Dogstopper  Icon User is offline

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Re: Written Programming Exams?

Posted 21 May 2011 - 06:52 AM

This is what I wrote for the fibonacci in pencil...
int fibo(int n) {
    return (n == 1 || n == 2) ? 1 : (fibo(n-1) + fibo(n-2));
}



they got mad because I was "supposed" to fill up the huge space they provided.
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#9 v0rtex  Icon User is offline

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Re: Written Programming Exams?

Posted 21 May 2011 - 01:31 PM

I wasn't attempting to be proud that I might have to code the fibonacci sequence in pencil (not much to boast about), I was merely sharing my experiences with what I have had to write and what I might have to write in the future :)
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#10 DaneAU  Icon User is offline

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Re: Written Programming Exams?

Posted 22 May 2011 - 05:45 AM

View PostTarkenfire, on 18 May 2011 - 11:36 AM, said:

I just got back from my Java I final exam...and it was interesting because it was entirely written, and it included writing full programs, and we couldn't use computers.

Umm, is this something unusual?

I've only taken two other programming classes in my college career so far (VB I and VB II), and those classes had practical finals that involved...programming rather than writing down syntax on a piece of paper and hope it's right with no way of checking.

Should I be expecting something similar in future programming classes?


Not unusual here for me. All my exams for programming related courses have been written. We have weekly tutorials and 3 projects per semester to demonstrate coding skills. Exams are to identify conceptual knowledge rather than syntax
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#11 Hiram  Icon User is offline

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Re: Written Programming Exams?

Posted 22 May 2011 - 07:54 AM

View PostTarkenfire, on 18 May 2011 - 05:09 PM, said:

I mean, people are going to cheat anyways, and really, so long as they're paying for the classes, what does it matter? The school gets it's money, a good grade, and the student screws themselves out of a real education to get a meaningless degree.


Well, the school ends up getting hurt in the long run. If they churn out students who get good marks on paper, but don't know shit in the real world, that reflects really badly on them. Which in turn makes a degree from that school worthless.

Anyway, I've only taken one, maybe two exams which involved writing language-specific code down on paper. Those courses were for specifically teaching those languages though, so of course I do see the importance of validating a students knowledge on the language. However for more specialty-based subjects, i.e. an exam on artificial intelligence, or 3D graphics, pseudo-code or prose is definitely a lot better than letting a programming language get in the way of your explanation of an algorithm.

Also, I'm really impressed in Dogstopper's one liner Fibonacci sequence. Couldn't be easier to understand or shorter.
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#12 Tom9729  Icon User is offline

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Re: Written Programming Exams?

Posted 22 May 2011 - 02:13 PM

View PostTarkenfire, on 17 May 2011 - 08:36 PM, said:

I just got back from my Java I final exam...and it was interesting because it was entirely written, and it included writing full programs, and we couldn't use computers.

Umm, is this something unusual?

I've only taken two other programming classes in my college career so far (VB I and VB II), and those classes had practical finals that involved...programming rather than writing down syntax on a piece of paper and hope it's right with no way of checking.

Should I be expecting something similar in future programming classes?

This is a pretty common complaint. For the record, every programming test I've ever taken (AP exam through college) has been written.

When they ask you to write a program on paper they aren't expecting a 100% syntactically correct program. They want you to spend time on answering the question, and not worrying about whether your program will compile.

I'm sure part of it is also to catch copy-and-paste programmers. Most of my classes are full of people who get 100% on every project/lab but do terrible on exams.

My advice is to leave lots of room and plan ahead because it's more difficult to "insert" code later on. Also use lined paper, or if necessary use two pencils to draw your own lines before starting. :)
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#13 smohd  Icon User is offline

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Re: Written Programming Exams?

Posted 22 May 2011 - 02:43 PM

All of our final programming exams(End of semester) are writing ones. I did C++, JAva & Data Structure courses exams in writing. The questions are like those in C++/Java how to program & DS Malik C++ Programming.
You have to show errors, write expected output and create a complete program or a piece of code that do something. :)

Quote

When they ask you to write a program on paper they aren't expecting a 100% syntactically correct program. They want you to spend time on answering the question, and not worrying about whether your program will compile.


Our lecturer if your program doesnot compile even by leaving one semicolon you get all program wrong

This post has been edited by smohd: 22 May 2011 - 02:46 PM

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#14 Tom9729  Icon User is offline

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Re: Written Programming Exams?

Posted 22 May 2011 - 03:03 PM

View Postsmohd, on 22 May 2011 - 05:43 PM, said:

Our lecturer if your program doesnot compile even by leaving one semicolon you get all program wrong

That makes sense, depending on what is being tested. The only time I have ever seen points taken off for things like that on a written exam are the very early CS courses concerned with teaching the basics of programming.
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#15 v0rtex  Icon User is offline

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Re: Written Programming Exams?

Posted 23 May 2011 - 04:42 AM

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Our lecturer if your program doesnot compile even by leaving one semicolon you get all program wrong
Hmm, our written exams have never been that strict but it does make sense I guess. Truly tests if you know your code and the concepts associated with topic X back to front.
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